Arianna Neal

Plugging thousands of students into STEM

When Arianna Neal looked around her physics class her junior year of high school, she noticed that she was one of few girls, and the only African American. She started questioning the lack of diversity in STEM subjects. Along with five friends and a teacher at Georgetown Day School (GDS) in Washington, DC, she began brainstorming how they might make a difference.

The group spent the year planning a conference that would introduce high school students to STEM careers and help break down gender barriers in classes and clubs. Their goal was to inspire all young people to try out STEM. The friends divvied up tasks and met every week until more than 500 students, teachers, and professionals arrived for the First Annual GDS STEM Conference.

Arianna wanted to maintain the momentum around STEM careers at her school, so she organized a speaker series, where students could listen to, meet, and ask questions of STEM professionals. She also volunteered in a club that helped students from low-income middle schools do hands-on experiments with chemistry, physics, and botany.

The advocacy wasn’t just work, Arianna says. “My friends and I created something that made all of us feel so proud, excited, invigorated, and energized. The shared experience drew us closer, and it was tons of fun!” The phenomenon Arianna and her friends started continues to grow. So far, it has reached more than 2,500 people. Thanks to the work of Arianna and her friends, STEM fields are sure to be more diverse in the future.
Arianna Neal

Georgetown Day School, Washington, DC